Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 16, 20172min1780

Denver International Airport will grow to address surging passenger traffic after city officials approved a $1.5 billion gate-expansion project earlier this week.

The Denver City Council OK’d a series of design and construction contracts associated with the project Monday night. The 39-gate expansion across the airport’s three concourses is expected to be complete by 2021.

“I think people should know that Denver is growing and that means that their airport has to grow at the same time,” DIA spokesperson Heath Montgomery told Denver7.

DIA officials say the airport must expand to meet climbing passenger traffic. When the airport first opened more than two decades ago, it was designed to accommodate 50 million passengers a year. But DIA passenger traffic has perpetually swelled, exceeding airport capacity last year. The airport set a passenger traffic record last year with 58.3 million traveling through its gates last year.

The new gate expansion is akin to another project recently approved by the city. The $1.8 billion Great Hall Project will overhaul security screening checkpoints and concessions and boost the Jeppesen terminal’s capacity to 80 million passengers a year. Through a 34-year, private-public partnership with Spanish transportation infrastructure behemoth Ferrovial, the project was controversial, in part, because of the City Council’s loss of oversight of new concessions.

DIA’s concourses were initially designed to allow for growth and additional gates, according to the airport. In 2014, five new gates were completed on DIA’s C concourse in a $46 million expansion project to bring the airport’s current gate count to 107.


Kara MasonKara MasonNovember 16, 20172min1140

The Fremont Clerk and Recorder has reappeared, according to reports from the Cañon City Daily Record.

Katie Barr was absent about a month after both the Fremont County commissioners and Cañon City Police Department announced the clerk was under investigation. It was also reported there were financial discrepancies coming from her office. Though, to what extent is still largely unknown.

The newspaper’s Sarah Matott reports:

The commissioners, according to a news release, reached out to the CPPD on Sept. 29 to investigate what appeared to be “irregular financial activity” stemming from Barr’s office.

According to the county’s news release about the investigation, Barr at that time “voluntarily removed herself from the operations of the Office of the Clerk and Recorder.” In accordance with Colorado law, Chief Deputy Clerk Dotty Gardunio stepped in to fulfill the duties of the elected office.

It’s so far unclear what those financial discrepancies are or how widespread they might be, but the Daily Record was able to confirm the police department reached out to the FBI for help on the case.

As for who else may be involved in the investigation and why Barr was gone for a month is under wraps. But county commissioners said they were adopting “additional financial safeguards.”

Elsewhere in Fremont County, citizens in Rockvale are gearing up for perhaps an entire recall of the city government. There, citizens say the town clerk was wrongly terminated after raising concerns about the bookkeeping on a truck-mudding event.

The recall election is slated for January, according to the Daily Record.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 16, 20173min4260

A lot of the workaday tax credits and deductions that businesses routinely use to trim Uncle Sam’s take are still off-limits to Colorado’s legal marijuana enterprises. That would change under legislation Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner signed onto this week as a co-sponsor.

As noted in a press release from Gardner’s office, the legislation, introduced by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, would “ensure marijuana businesses legally operating in Colorado and other states that have legalized the sale of marijuana are able to utilize common business tax deductions and credits, such as those for normal business expenses or for hiring veterans.”

The legislation underscores the continued rift over legal marijuana between the Trump administration and states like Colorado, and it highlights once again the irony of conservative Republicans like Gardner moving to shore up states’ rights on the matter in the face of opposition from conservative Republican U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Despite the administration push-back, Gardner, quoted in the announcement by his office, comes across as an unflinching champion of free-market marijuana who might as well be saying, “Jeff who?”

“Our current tax code puts thousands of legal marijuana businesses throughout Colorado at a disadvantage by treating them differently than other businesses across the state … Coloradans made their voices heard in 2012 when they legalized marijuana and it’s time for the federal government to allow Colorado businesses to compete. This commonsense, bipartisan bill will allow small businesses in Colorado and other states that have legal marijuana businesses to grow their operations, create jobs, and boost the economy.”

The press release also notes bipartisan accolades for Gardner’s embrace of the legislation:

“I commend Senator Gardner for fighting for Colorado’s small businesses,” said Sal Pace, former Democratic Leader in the Colorado State House and sitting Pueblo County Commissioner. “By sponsoring S.777, Senator Gardner is saying that he wants to put millions of dollars back into Colorado’s economy. This is a watershed moment. We don’t hear of a lot of bipartisanship these days. But, this Democrat wants to publicly thank Senator Gardner for his leadership.”


Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 16, 20174min6870

Well, here’s a new idea courtesy of Colorado gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell: If you’re elected official and you’re running for higher office, get off the government payroll.

“You have to show up to your job to get paid, shouldn’t your elected officials have to do the same before asking for a promotion?” asks the 55-second ad called “Resign to Run”

Let’s see who the entrepreneur from Castle Rock might be talking about in the governor’s race: state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, possibly Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter, and the ex gubernatorial candidate turned attorney general hopeful George Brauchler … but not Cary Kennedy; she stepped down from her job as Denver’s chief financial officer last year, presumably to ready for the race. Mike Johnston was term-limited out of the state Senate last year, so he caught a break, and Greg Lopez hasn’t been the mayor of Parker since the early 1990s.

Of course, the flaw in this, unless Victor gets in other changes, would be that the governor, usually a Democrat, would be able to appoint the replacement attorney general and treasurer, offices usually won by Republicans in Colorado. That’s how Democrat Bernie Buescher became secretary of state in 2009, when Republican Mike Coffman was elected to Congress; Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter appointed him.

The bill is a work in progress, Mitchell’s campaign indicated Thursday.

“We are exploring details, but (as with term limits) we don’t think congressional candidates or federal officeholders could be under this, legally. But we’re exploring,” said David Hill, an adviser to Mitchell’s campaign who is a former Texas A&M professor who was director of the Public Policy Resources Laboratory and founding director of The Texas Poll.

“… There are a lot of moving parts here and we are exploring judiciously. But we believe the policy is sound. Several other states already have this, so the policy is not without precedent.”

He added, “This is how good policy is made. We advance a broad outline of a proposal and then get feedback, both from legal and political sources. Then we move to finalizing the proposal, based on the input received. That is how Victor Mitchell operates.”

Mitchell served one term in the state House before leaving to focus on the business for a few years.

He’s proposing a law to force those who have been elected to full-time state or local offices to resign before seeking a higher office.

“Taxpayers should not be forced to continue to pay the salaries of officeholders who are seeking promotion to a higher office,” Mitchell said in a statement. “Campaigning is almost a full-time job these days and we can’t expect an officeholder to run for a different office without neglecting their current office responsibilities.

“This law would not prevent anyone from seeking any office they choose. It would merely prevent neglect of duty and taxpayer subsidies of campaigners. I don’t like corporate welfare, and I don’t like welfare for politicians, either.”

Mitchell linked his proposal to term Limits, which he said cuts down career politicians, and the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights “promoted financial accountability.

“Resign-To-Run will help keep the political insiders accountable to the people that elect them,” contends Mitchell. “Don’t expect the establishment to embrace this new idea, but I am already seeing that the people of Colorado believe it’s a welcome check on political ambition.”


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 16, 20172min3090

… to his resume, having picked up the accolade this week from the Colorado Livestock Association “for his work and commitment to Colorado’s agriculture and livestock industry.” So says an association press announcement. Of course, the veteran Republican lawmaker from Sterling is going to have to shoehorn that latest distinction in alongside some others — most notably, farmer and rancher, water warrior and state senator.

It all adds up to an ideal member of the General Assembly in the eyes of livestock association chief exec Bill Hammerich, who had this to say:

“Senator Jerry Sonnenberg is a real-life farmer and rancher who has a deep-rooted understanding of and passion for agriculture in Colorado. This is most evident in his actions as he represents not just his constituents in Senate District One, but all of Colorado agriculture in carrying out his duties in the Colorado Senate …”

As the association reminds us in its press release, Sonnenberg is a Colorado native and lifelong farmer and rancher on the land where both he and his dad grew up. Importantly to his rural constituents across a vast swath of eastern Colorado, he chairs the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Pretty much a shoo-in for this week’s honor.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 15, 20173min4300

Chalkbeat Colorado's Nic Garcia offers a post-game analysis of last week's school board elections that serves as a primer for political junkies and campaign tacticians of every stripe. Garcia dissects the highly successful efforts of teachers unions to regain ground they had lost to education reformers in three high-profile school districts — Denver's, Aurora's and Douglas County's — and the big takeaway is go hyperlocal, start early, and dig deep.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 15, 20174min4020

Each week, the Colorado Dental Association has been posting real-life testimonials on social media about the impact of a state initiative extending Medicaid dental coverage to Colorado adults. Several adults from across Colorado — Denver, the Western Slope and Eastern Plains included — are being highlighted in the series being shared on Facebook, Twitter and the Colorado Dental Association website.

Children in Medicaid-insured households long have gotten coverage for their oral health care, but adults only were brought in under the state-federal Medicaid umbrella a few years ago. A Colorado Dental Association press release this week touts the effort and gives some background:

Starting on April 1, 2014, Colorado adults enrolled in Medicaid gained access to dental coverage. Colorado expanded this benefit because of the importance of dental care and the strong evidence that good oral health is substantially linked to overall physical health. Health experts agree that neglecting oral health leads to serious conditions like strokes, heart and lung disease, pneumonia and diabetes. Good oral health conversely can prevent major health conditions and supports healthy pregnancies.

What’s more, all those maladies and more become the burden of taxpayers when the medically indigent don’t have dental coverage; they wind up in emergency rooms. And that costs all of society a lot more than if they simply had seen a dentist in time.

Hence, testimonials like this one from Zaida Garcia of Aurora:

I have a really big smile. That’s one of the reasons I know I have to take care of my teeth. I didn’t always have access to affordable dental care. That didn’t do my teeth any favors. …

… I moved to Colorado two years ago, and got dental coverage by enrolling in Medicaid. I promptly found a dentist and scheduled a teeth cleaning. I ended up needing a root canal and cap for a tooth that otherwise would have needed to be pulled. …

… The cap on my tooth is the perfect shade—not too light, not too dark. I still have a big smile, because I know that nobody can tell a thing!

The subtext of the “Dental Health Matters” campaign by the dental association is to help ensure continued state funding for the program. It’s covered by interest the state earns on unclaimed bank accounts and other unclaimed assets whose owners can’t be located.

A key premise seems to be that the additional funding for the adult dental benefit is a cost-saving investment not only in the physical health of the beneficiaries but also in the fiscal health of the state in the long run.